Mash-Up At The Alex Hamilton Studio & Gallery

By: Mandy J Watson
Posted: 7 September 2012
Category: Features
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Comic panels, superheroes, art, ephemera, vintage toys, stencil art, painting, and a little bit of humour have all been mashed together by four South African artists currently exhibiting in a new show in Cape Town in which pop culture takes centre stage.

Last week Cape Town artist Alex Hamilton opened his latest exhibition, Mash-Up, at his new, larger space in Barron Street, Woodstock. Mash-Up features new art by Alex as well as works by artists Aidon Westcott, Claude Chandler, and Warren Raysdorf, all of which complement each other and are a treat for fans of comics and pop culture.

Mash-Up At The Alex Hamilton Studio & Gallery

Above: Mash-Up poster

The show's poster, in an edition of five signed by all four artists, is available for purchase.



Aidon Westcott, East London
Painter And Sculptor
Aidon's pieces are all mixed-media collage works. Sixteen really clever, eye-catching pieces comprise vignettes (the "short story" kind and the "decorative border" kind) on place mats. The place mats' original images - scenes set in places such as South Africa and England from way back in the day - serve as the background for characters, objects, panels, and word balloons that have been cut from comics (and possibly other printed media) and repurposed to make a new story, which is often quite amusing and reminds me of Wondermark. I usually feel a sharp, stabbing pain in my heart when I see that comics have been defiled but I have to acknowledge the brilliance and inventiveness of these pieces.

Mash-Up At The Alex Hamilton Studio & Gallery

Above: My Name Is Earl (220x195mm; 2011)



Mash-Up At The Alex Hamilton Studio & Gallery

Above: Detail of My Name Is Earl



Mash-Up At The Alex Hamilton Studio & Gallery

Above: Three Gypsy's Discuss What They Saw On Oprah (240x190mm)

I'm really fond of the repurposed comic pages that were used to create the border of this artwork. (And, yes, that errant apostrophe in the title irks me.)



Mash-Up At The Alex Hamilton Studio & Gallery

Above: Seven Year Itch (205x175mm; 2011)

Make sure that you read the text underneath as well, as it all works together to build the scene.



Mash-Up At The Alex Hamilton Studio & Gallery

Above: Modern Day Arrest Scenario (220x195mm; 2011)

You can see more of these place-mat artworks in a photo set on Aidon's Facebook page.



Mash-Up At The Alex Hamilton Studio & Gallery

Above: No3 Red (1100x770mm)

Aidon's other work in the show is a larger collage, titled No3 Red, that collects and presents vintage cultural items and ephemera such as old bottle caps, the top of the box from the card game Tops And Tails, cigarette cards, and a stack of letters that are tied together and whose contents will remain an intriguing mystery unless you want to buy the piece and open them. Around the paint can are more collage pieces that have been cut from comics.



Mash-Up At The Alex Hamilton Studio & Gallery

Above: Details of No3 Red showing the cigarette cards, the Tops And Tails game, and the letters



Mash-Up At The Alex Hamilton Studio & Gallery

Above: Detail of No3 Red showing the bottle caps and an old South African stamp



Claude Chandler, Durban
Portrait Artist
Claude's eclectic artworks all feature profiles interpreted in interesting ways and often using an unusual medium. The most interesting collection is Profile Crop, which comprises 60 acrylic-on-canvas-board artworks that feature cropped faces or torsos. Some are recognisable but the identity of others are left to the imagination. All the pieces are individually for sale although they definitely work best when a few are grouped together.

Mash-Up At The Alex Hamilton Studio & Gallery

Above: Profile Crop 1-60 (100x155mm each)



Mash-Up At The Alex Hamilton Studio & Gallery

Above: A selection of Profile Crop artworks



Mash-Up At The Alex Hamilton Studio & Gallery

Above: Two individual pieces from the Profile Crop series



Mash-Up At The Alex Hamilton Studio & Gallery

Above: Board Shot 1 (130x130x70mm), Board Shot 2 (130x130x70mm), and Board Face (280x280x110mm)

These three artworks all comprise pieces of chalk that have been arranged so that the colours form an image. It's almost a real-world version of pixel art (if you're a gamer) or halftone printing (if you're in the publishing industry). The chalk isn't shielded so it's quite tempting to touch, although I didn't.



Mash-Up At The Alex Hamilton Studio & Gallery

Above: Pokerface (720x102mm)

Pokerface is another artwork that creates a form from individual pieces - in this case poker chips (held together with grout).



Mash-Up At The Alex Hamilton Studio & Gallery

Above: Lego Visage (noted as 420x54mm but this is obviously incorrect)

Having seen Nathan Sawaya's LEGO artworks earlier this year I was really exited to see Claude Chandler's Lego Visage in the show until I looked more closely at it to study the details.



Mash-Up At The Alex Hamilton Studio & Gallery

Above: Detail of Lego Visage

As you can see, the blocks don't fit together seamlessly and this annoyed me greatly. I can't imagine what it would do to someone with OCD. I don't know whether it is due to a lack of attention to quality or if it's because some of the bricks aren't actually LEGO pieces, which I began to suspect the longer I looked at the artwork. I cannot be sure as I didn't touch it but some of the pieces looked to be cheaper plastic used by competitor toymakers who make similar, but inferior, products that don't snap together properly. (LEGO pieces are designed that every brick ever made can fit seamlessly into every other brick.)

Either way, the result is an artwork with a great idea but poor execution, which was a huge disappointment.



Warren Raysdorf, Durban
Cartoonist, Illustrator, And Designer
Warren is a comic artist who can often be found organising or participating in live art events, such as Sketch Warz, and guerilla-street-art campaigns.

Mash-Up At The Alex Hamilton Studio & Gallery

Above: Card Toon 1-9 (315x455mm, 230x320mm, and 170x245mm)

Warren's Card Toon series comprises nine pieces of acrylic-on-board works. They are being sold separately although they really look great grouped together as they have been at the exhibition and which you can see above.



Mash-Up At The Alex Hamilton Studio & Gallery

Above: Card Toon 4 (230x320mm)



Mash-Up At The Alex Hamilton Studio & Gallery

Above: Six original draft comic strips (300x210mm each)

A number of Warren's original ink-on-paper draft drawings for comic strips that he produced are also being exhibited.



Mash-Up At The Alex Hamilton Studio & Gallery

Above: Closeup of one of the original draft comic strips



Mash-Up At The Alex Hamilton Studio & Gallery

Above: Free Beer and Bang (300x420mm)



Alex Hamilton, Cape Town
Pop-Culture Artist
Alex's work has been featured a few times on brainwavez.org. He is best known for his quirky stenciled artworks of an iconic emblem or person that he then spray paints onto a wooden block, although he also produces large-scale canvasses and has expanded his stencil work to explore other aspects of pop culture as well as notable suburbs in Cape Town (Woodstock and Green Point) and the town of Prince Albert.

Mash-Up At The Alex Hamilton Studio & Gallery

Above: Cast & Crew pop-culture superheroes (75x110mm each)

For Mash-Up Alex has presented a small selection of artworks from the ever-growing Cast & Crew collection, in this case showcasing various comics, film, and gaming heroes and villains. Some icons, such as Superman and Batman, are from the original collection that he launched in 2008 but 16 are new and were designed specifically for this show.


Mash-Up At The Alex Hamilton Studio & Gallery

Above: Cast & Crew: 1-Up Mushroom and Mario

When Cast & Crew originally debuted the series consisted of 1000 icons, although very soon after that the number increased as people commissioned him to make block artworks of celebrities he hadn't included in the initial collection. The project continued to grow and in 2010 the collection comprised about 1400 icons. There are now around 1700 icons. Alex has about 400 of them, arranged in rainbow hues, on permanent display on a wall in his gallery. You could stare at it for hours and you still wouldn't take in all of it.



Mash-Up At The Alex Hamilton Studio & Gallery

Above: Miscellaneous Celebrity (2040x900mm)

This vast piece, which is acrylic and spray paint on canvas, uses 60 of the Cast & Crew stencil designs in a striking, eclectic way. Celebrities represented on the canvas include Madonna, John Cleese, Ghandi, Charlie Chaplin, Mr T as BA Baracus, Princess Diana, Marilyn Monroe, Elvis Presley, Barak Obama, William Shatner as Captain Kirk, and Oscar Wilde.



Mash-Up At The Alex Hamilton Studio & Gallery

Above: Frida 1 to 12 (all 205x145mm oval)

Artist Frida Kahlo frequently appears in Alex's work and, in this instance, he has created a collection of 12 representations of her, all spray paint on wood.



Mash-Up At The Alex Hamilton Studio & Gallery

Above: Close up of Frida 1 and Frida 10



Mash-Up At The Alex Hamilton Studio & Gallery

Above: Special Edition Schumi (127x178mm each)

These larger, special-edition icons are canvas instead of wood.



All the artworks are for sale so if you see something you like but can't get there contact the studio (see "Key Facts" below, which also includes exhibition times) to find out if it's still available and to organise a purchase. You can also enquire about commissioning the artists to do private work. Mash-Up is running until 17 September 2012.

Tags: #arts_and_culture, #batman, #comics, #lego






Key Facts: Mash-Up
When: 30 August 2012 to 17 September 2012 (but works that have been bought can be collected from 14 September 2012 so it's best to get there sooner); weekdays by appointment only, open Saturday 8 September 2012 from 10:00 to 14:00
Where: Alex Hamilton Studio & Gallery, 2nd Floor, 9 Barron Street, Woodstock, Cape Town, South Africa
Phone: +27 21 447 2396



On The Internet
Claude Chandler: Flickr | LinkedIn
Alex Hamilton: Official Site | Facebook | Twitter
Warren Raysdorf: Official Blog | Behance | LinkedIn | Facebook
Aidon Westcott: Official Site | Facebook | LinkedIn | Twitter



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